tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera July 8, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT
. >> pain and suffering is central to human experience. >> his brother and his sister torn apart when their afghan father allows a wealthier family to adopt the young girl. >> the idea for the book really came about from a story about the very painful and difficult acts of sacrifice. >> the son of a diplomat fath , father,hos hfather, hosseini moved and he could not return. his family sought and were granted political asylum in the .
>> we knew that essentially, we had to start life all over again. >> hosseini is a good will ambassador to unhcr, the un refugee agency and established a foundation to provide aid to the people of afghanistan. >> this year in particular, every year but this year in particular is a very good time for people around the world to take a step back, to think about the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted through no fault of their own. >> hosseini's debut novel was a phenomenon. it spent 100 weeks on the "new york times" best selling novel. >> your third novel is coming out in paperback as we speak, favorite? >> your last book is always your favorite. it feels to me the -- in some ways, the most personal of my three novels. it feels to me in some ways the
most ambitious of the three and maybe the most accomplished. >> why? >> i felt this is a novel that challenged me the most to write. it was more complex than the other three to write, just the structure of it, the multiple narratives, the diversity of character and setting. the subtlety of the themes ? >> the voices, there was not a clear good guy, a clear bad guy. it separated in an am billing with us area that "the kite runner" did not. there, there was a good guy and a bad book. this book raises more questions than provides answers. >> one thing that struck me about all of the characters is that while each of them has something that a reader might find instantly appealing, they also had character flaws that made you just want to grab them by the shoulders and say: snap out of it. what are you doing?
how hard was it, given that you had more than a dozen people telling this one story to make them real? >> it was difficult. that was the challenge of this more or less free standing although they overlapped with each other and together action they tell one big story. but each chapter had to be from a different voice. each character had to be fully human in the sense that they had things, as you said, were appealing, but, also, that disappointed you in certain ways and behaved in unpredictable ways. each chapter, i felt like i lived with someone that was flawed as i am and as we are in human beings. my editor suggested it at the epigraph which is out beyond the notions of right doing and wrongdoing, there is a field.
i will meet you there. i feel like the characters in this book live in that field beyond sort of a clear-cut notions of right and wrong. >> there are moments about loss and sacrifice, hari being sold. >> uh-huh. >> to save her family. >> uh-huh. >> parawana leaving her twin sister out in the >> uh-huh. >> we believe to >> uh-huh. >> nabi making good on his promise to his employer, suliman to help him when the end came. why the focus on pain? what were you trying to make your reader understand? >> you know, i think if we think back on our life, there is pain and suffering and difficult decisions it's so central to every human experience. i think that's part of the
reason why we read books that deal with those issues, in that in reading them in some way there is a communal experience of these emotions. and we feel somehow less alone, we feel like our own pain and suffering, albeit different from those of the characters is understood by others and that others have gone through this the idea for the book really came about from a story i read in 2008, which is really about this very painful and difficult acts of sacrifice and decision making in that the tory was about the winter of 2008 in afghanistan which was just brutal i read stories about families in afghanistan living in villages who were selling their children to
wealthy couples to be adopted and i suspect to be enlisted in some form of child labor but they are selling children to support the rest of their kids and provide a better life. as a father, i kind of thought about when i read that, i kind of thought about the kind of sophie's choice, you know, dilemma that is faced by a parent and how painful that must have been, that really happened, that real fathers have to make those decisions. >> kind of became one of the central emotions in the book. >> before you founded your foundation, before you were the world famous writer, before you were a doctor, you and your >> yeah. >> you were 14. >> yes. >> you talked about the pessimism. did you have that sense when your family realized after the
soviet invasion, we can't go home again? it's too dangerous? >> yes. the prospects for us to return home were very bleak because when the soviets came, we knew this was going to be a protracted situation and there was no quick resolution to this. and so we knew that essentially, we had to start life all over again and that everything that we owned, everything that we had built as a family before was basically swiped off of the board and it was time to start a new life, which is a very frightening and we were luck. we were begin asylum to come to the united states where most refugees live in camps or live in cities or you areban centers where they are struggling to go make ends meet, to find food, to find schooling for their kids. we came to the u.s. and two weeks later, i was in school.
you know, in syria, you know, there is 3 million children who are out of school. 1.2 million refugee children, two-thirds of them have no access to schooling. so, yes, i came here as a political refugee but i want to make sure that i keep that perspective, that i was really one of the lucky ones. >> who advocated for the hosseini family? >> my mafather. my father took the step to bring us to the u.s. we had friends in san jose that we knew from the past and they were so helpful to us when we resettled. and that's something i want to stress to the general population, is that when you see newly aarrived refugees, when you see newly resettled people, have some compassion for them because they are very confused. it's very disorienting to start life in a brand-new country with a different culture. they may not speak the language. mundane banal things like a plying for a driver's license or enrolling your kid in school or
even grocery shopping or it can be so confusing and so just helping them with those little things is an enormous help. >> is this in part why you are an advocate, in addition to being a writer today? >> yeah. when the u.n. refugee agency contacted me and asked me to work with them, i could not think of a more suitable situation for me. i would watched, in addition to being an asylum seeker, i had watched the afghan refugee situation, at 1.8 million refugees were living in camps. so when the opportunity came for me to be a spokesperson for people like my fellow afghan refugees, you know, that's a away.
>> do you think that, had you not been forced to abandoned kabul that you would have been a writer earlier in your life? >> who knows? i think if we stayed in kabul, our lives would be so different. quite possibly i would have been drafted into the army and sent off by the communist government to go and fight the mujahadin as many boys were. it's possible i would have lost my father. imprisoned. government. >> he was with the previous government. so many of his colleagues were persecuted. the ones who stayed behind. so there is no -- there is no question to me that the turning moment in my life was at '76 when we went to paris. >> that's probably the reason why i am here. >> were you angry at some point about how life was turning out for you and your family?
i mean you go off to paris, which, you know, en for a teenager can be -- you know, come on. my life is here. why are we moving off to this other country? but yet you can't go home. >> yeah. >> and you have said, i think, because of watched my parents struggle, that's why i became a struggle. >> i think at their aiming, when my father was 41 and my mother was in her late 30s when she came to the u.s. u.s., i think the anger was more part of their experience than mine. as a teenager, it was more anxiety and uncertainty. some level of excitement. i wanted to live in the u.s. i mean that was exciting. but also the idea of restarting life, losing your friends, having to make new ones, not beingability speak english at all. not understanding the culture, the environment, that was
kind of producing. >> here you are. >> but it helps to have a healthy sense of perspective. it helps to remember that as difficult as things might be for you in california, there are people living in camps in peshwara, people making less than a dollar a day, you know, doing manual labor so they can feature feed eight, nine children in their family. >> uh-huh? >> to loose sight of perspective and become so narcissistic as to not be able to appreciate your own blessings is miserable. and my father and my mother were very good to that. they were very, very level headed when it came to that. >> you realtime became an ambassador after serving as an envoy since 2007. observance n your opinion particularly necessary for the global community?
>> we have a displacements crisis around the world that is unpair . over 40 million people are displaced. this is an enormous humanitarian crisis. we have a very, very urgent situation in syria. the estimation is by syria, it will displace afghanistan as the largest refugee producing nation on earth, over 4 million people will be displaced. so, i think this year in particular is a very good time for people around the world to take a step back, to think about the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted through no fault of their own. 90% of refugees arrive in neighboring countries carrying nothing. 75% of refugees are women and children. these are human beings who have lost everything. world refuge day for me is a day to think
about them, pay homage to their contribution. >> you have met some of these refugees in march when you visited northern iraq. >> right. >> what struck you the most about their plight? >> the refugees i met came from kurdish part of syria in northern iraq. one thing that was very striking to me is how pessimistic they were about the potential for return home. and at the same time, what a terrible longing they had to go back to syria. none of the refugees that i met were happy to be in northern iraq. all wanted to go back to syria all of them knew the situation in syria is very, very difficult for them. virtually every refugee i met was stealing themselves about having to stay in northern iraq for a protracted time because the violence in syria, there appears to be no end to it.
i was struck, also, by the generosity of the local community that welcomed the refugees. the camp i vivid was built overnight in a matter of a week to accommodate the influx of thousands of syrian refugees that crossed the border. the year before. i was also struck by the fact that these neighboring countries like where i was in the kurdistan region of iraq but also, lebanon and egypt and turkey they have enormous problems of their own. this influx of refugees is a strain on their social services, on their economic situation. it behooves all of us to see this not as the problem of a handful of nations, neighboring syria, address. we can do our part to help ease
the burden for those countries as refugees continue to flow across the border. >> there is more ahead on "talk to al jazeera." stay with us. >> now inroducing, the new al jazeea america mobile news app. get our exclusive in depth, reporting when you want it. a global perspective wherever you are. the major headlines in context. mashable says... you'll never miss the latest news >> they will continue looking for suvivors... >> the potential for energy production is huge... >> no noise, no clutter, just real reporting. the new al jazeera america mobile app, available for your apple and android mobile device. download it now
this week, international best-selling author and u.n. refugee ambassador,. >> we are in the middle of a political season yet there is concern that afghanistan could fall away if the world doesn't continue to pay attention. what is your perspective on this? >> i think that's a view shared by a lot of afghans that i have spoken to, both abroad and in afghanistan, itself.
the afghans that i have spoken to from all walks of life feel that the country has progressed over the last 10 years. it can't be compared to the pre-september 11th afghanistan on many, many fronts. >> uh-huh. >> they don't feel like it's a country that can stand on its own feet as yet and it's still dependent on foreign assistance. there is also a general skepticism about whether the afghan state, such as it is, can fully protect the civilians against the insurgency. so, i think the current period for a lot of afghans is ah time of anxiety and uncertainty. >> uh-huh. >> the big boogey man in the closet is a return to the '90s. and not even really referring to the at that taliban years but referring to the years preceding the taliban when you had basically militia warfare. and that's the disaster scenario.
>> that's a lot of after gangs' fear and hope we will not go back to when you had massive human displacements, chaos, violence that was rampant and people were dying by the tens of thousands in cities and cities were being destroyed. sfekttive. >> has been the fear of that scenarios has been the basis of the general approval of the presence of the foreign troops over the last decade and now that their troops are leaving, i think there is a sense among afghans of certainty of what exactly is going to happen moving forward. no one knows the answer to that. >> how much confidence, whether it's ashaf hani or abdullah-al d abdula-abdula, in terms of economic development, stability, progress for the afghan peopthan achieve?
>> i think afghans are ready for change and any change from the last 10 years or at least initially it will be seen as a positive thing. i think one of the really important thins where we are right now is who is elected is almost as impossible, as important as how he is elected. but whoever is in office has an enormous task ahead of him. >> how does the west support the afghan people through this transition? isn't there this danger of westerners trying to impose their values, their cultural and historical perspective on afghanistan on people without acknowledging their own views of what is best for the afghan nation? >> i think early on the afghan campaign, there was a lot of that i think we have become a bit wiser since then. more and more i hear we need to
be a sportive presence and no meanful change will come to afghanistan unless it's initiated by the afghans themselves within the context of afghan history and afghan culture. yeah, we can make quick changes but what we really need is enduring change in afghanistan. and that can only be brought by the afghans, themselves afghans have never been very receptive to a foreignma master. they have revolted against that. afghanistan needs economic space and a period of relatively good security to be able to bring about a cultural transformation that i think is necessary. >> what about the capabilities of the national security forces? do people trust that they can keep the country safe in and i
use that in the largest sense of the word. >> of all of the institutions, it's one of the better respected ones but i think it's still a young army. there is still a lot of disersion and i will literalliteracy. people are cautiously optimistic but there is, i think, understandable apprehension of the ana to fully provide security and protect the civilians once nato and the u.s. end combat operations. it. >> where does the taliban fit in all of this? at one point, people forget they >> uh-huh. >> well, i think these elections were a national referendum against the taliban. you know, they were very clear in their message that if you
show up to vote, we'll kill you. people showed up by the millions given this is a country that's racked by an ongoing insurgency and how inaccessible some parts the country are. including women, including old people and they voted. and i think that was an egg in the face of the taliban. you know, i think it was also an answer to those people who think that the taliban presented an agenda that is appetizing to afghan people, you know. what these elections say to me is that the taliban vision for the future of aftghanistan is nt shared by the majority of afghan people >> that they want their voice heard, that they want to be part of the political process, and however imperfect and fragile that democracy may be, they want to be a part of it. and they want to have a voice in the future of the country. it does not include going back to the days of extremism that we saw under the taliban. it seems to me the country has turned a corner and that there are some things now that ought to be treated as untouchable and
. your three novels have dealt with an afghanistan that particularly people in the west don't know? >> uh-huh. >> haven't appreciated and you have talked about the tension between being an artist, being a writer, and being an advocate. i think you said it was quote, a kind of an onerous burden to one interviewer. how do you square the two? >> you have to be honest with what you are, what your limitations are and what your influence can be. i am a person who has lived outside of afghanistan now since 1976. when i am asked about the situation in afghanistan, i give
my answer as a lay person, someone who is interested in the country and who reads. so, i am very careful to draw the line. novelist. i write books about characters. now, those books have been set in afghanistan, and the lives of my characters have been impacted greatly by the events in afghanistan the last 30 years. so by default, my books have also been a kind of a chronic thing of the troubles in afghanistan over the last 30-plus years. and in some ways, my books have been windows into afghan culture, afghan life for many of my western readers. it's a mixed blessing in the sense that, a, people now if they read my book, they see there is so much more to afghanistan than the kings of tora bora and the taliban. i don't want them to think that this is some kind of exhaustive manifesto on afghanistan. it is a novel, and every novel is written with a narrow "viewpoint" and mine is that of
a person living in exile. so that has to be understood by readers. >> khaled hosseini thank you for talking to al jazeera. >> thank you. >> this is al jazeera america. live from new york city. i'm michael yves with a look at today's top stories. israel's army calls up 40,000 troops as it launches deadly new airstrikes against gaza. president obama asked for $4 billion to deal with minors illegally crossing the southern border. and the stone center brazil, germany dominating on a path to a potential world cup championship.